Endangered African Penguin chick ready for public debut

Endangered African Penguin chick ready for public debut
The endangered African Penguin chick, now 1-month-old, has made its public debut at the National Aviary. (National Aviary)

PITTSBURGH — One month to the day since it made its way into the world, an endangered African Penguin chick is making its public debut at the National Aviary.

Visitors will be able to see the chick when it makes appearances in the Avian Care Center located in The Charity Randall Foundation Eagle Hall twice a day. The chick is the first for parents Buddy and Holly, and the eleventh of this endangered species to hatch at the National Aviary on the North Side.

Only about the size of a golf ball when it hatched on Jan. 3, the little chick is covered in downy grey feathers and growing quickly. Penguin chicks can gain about 10% of their body weight each day and this Penguin chick is now able to eat whole fish. The chick is snug in its climate-controlled space and the viewing area is set up with physical distancing protocols in mind.

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Thanks to a generous donor, names for the chick have already been chosen, but they will not be revealed until the sex is known. Once the chick’s juvenile feathers begin to grow in, a DNA test will determine the sex. Until then, the public can give their best guess if the chick is a boy or a girl when they visit, or cast a vote online at aviary.org.

The National Aviary’s Penguin Point habitat is home to a colony of African Penguins. With only about 13,000 pairs remaining in the wild in South Africa, African Penguins are an endangered species, and have experienced a steep decline in recent years. Their decline is largely a result of human disturbance: over-fishing, human activity at nesting sites, and disasters like oil spills put pressure on African Penguin populations.

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